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Everyone enjoys a treat from time to time, whether it’s a few chocolate chip cookies, a tasty donut, or a slice of pizza. Your horse is no different. Your horse will thoroughly enjoy the occasional treat from you, whether it’s once in a while or every day in small quantities. Sharing a treat with your horse is a great way to thank you for an excellent job, reinforce reward training, and if we’re blatant, feeding treats to our horses feels great as a genuine bonding moment.
There is genuinely nothing wrong with giving your horse treats; he deserves a tasty snack and the bonding, and so do you. Although, there are a few guidelines to consider when giving your horse treats. These guidelines will help you choose the most suitable types of treats, determine an appropriate treat frequency, and establish a reasonable amount of treats you can give your beloved horse.
Healthy Fruits And Vegetables
Healthy fruits and vegetables are the best snacks to give your horse. Most specifically, apple slices and carrots are great choices. It is best to avoid trying to treat your horse to hedge apples as even though many other animals enjoy these apples, horses do not favor them. The coarse texture and unusual taste of hedge apples don’t appeal to horses, even in the wild. It is also best to ensure fruits and vegetables are fresh. A healthy diet is essential and wilted fruits and veggies have lost nutrients while not tasting nearly as great as the fresher alternatives. Therefore, if treating your horse with unsavory wilted fruits and veggies, your stallion may not identify the foods as a treat.
Store-Bought Horse Treats
Commercially made horse treats are also a great snack choice as they are generally easier to store and travel with than fresh fruit and vegetables. Another popular snack for horses is sugar cubes, although they are not the healthier choice. Treating your horse to the occasional sugar cube is a good idea, although you should be sure to avoid overdoing it with sugar cube treats just as you would restrict the sugar intake of a child for health reasons.
Treats To Avoid
Just as there are treats your horse will love, there are others that should be avoided. Your horse should never be given lawn trimmings or clippings as they can contain poisonous plants, negatively impact the hindgut PH balance, and even cause your beloved horse to choke. Brocolli, cabbage, and cauliflower can cause excessive gas if quantities are too large, which is why it is best to avoid these foods altogether. What’s more, tomatoes and potatoes are both parts of the nightshade family, rendering them unsuitable for your horse. Even though some horse owners have reported feeding potatoes and tomatoes to their stallions, it is best to avoid them just in case. Other treats to avoid include unpitted stone fruits that can cause choking, chocolate, fresh bread and baked foods, sweet grains.
Appropriate Treat Quantities
How much treats you are giving your horse is as important as the type of food. Feeding your stallion 15-20 carrots will be more of a meal than a treat. If you have an average-sized horse, just one or two carrots is enough for a quick treat or reward snack. Giving your horse too many treats will also cause an unbalanced diet, leading to digestive issues and a few other problems, such as lowered protein levels, boosting starch levels, and influencing the potency of vitamins and minerals. In addition to this, treats are only extraordinary when given sparsely; spoiling your beloved horse with too many treats will also render reward training a challenge as he may not identify treats as rewards if handed out too generously.
Understanding The Nutritional Needs Of Your Horse
Your horse might have a relatively small stomach, as the average thousand-pound horse’s stomach has the capacity of only two to four gallons. You will need to feed your horse a total of six classes of nutrients, daily. These nutrients are water, carbs, protein, fats, minerals, and vitamins. Each day, roughly ten gallons of water is adequate, while carbs are the primary energy source in most commercial feeds. The ideal protein content per feeding ratio is about eight to twelve percent and less than six percent fats. When it comes to minerals, your horse needs at least 21 minerals included in their diets daily, while a variety of vitamins is also essential. If you aren’t too sure if your horse feed contains the right amount of nutrients, it is best to speak to your trusted vet to determine a suitable feed for your horse depending on weight, age, and general health, as some horses may require more.